THE YUDIT'S HOME.
Dragon head cliffs were a lonely barren place. A spot where one could sit and gaze out over the Sea of Aces. At the base of those cliffs was a stretch of sandy beach. The sand a yellowish brown that was dotted here and there with large moss covered rocks. At the edge of the cliffs lay a large green and brown dragon, his tail hung off the cliffs edge, the gold crown he was born with circled his head looking out of place. His black slitted eyes gazed out over the water, watching as a black speck rose and fell as the waves brought it close to shore.
The wind on this day was brisk, coming slightly from the north, the hint of winter was in the air as the wind ever soften sent a wisp of spray up and over the speck as it helped to push the speck closer to shore.
The Dragon's eyes snapped open; his ears stood tall as the wind carried a baby's cry aloft. Slowly lifting his head the dragon realized that the speck that he had been watching was in fact a small boat that was falling apart. It was from this that the cries were coming from. Did you know a dragon can see for miles?
With a tired sigh Daiya the high dragon of Atwofour stood, spreading his giant wings he swept off the cliffs and soared down and out over the white caps, drawing close Daiya saw that the small boat that he had been watching had a northern look to it, though it was hard to tell since it was three quarters of the way under water. Dropping low Daiya gently grasped the baby and its mother. A couple of hard sweeps of his wings and Daiya was once more on top of Dragon head cliffs.
Gently setting the mother on the soft grass, Daiya stood on one foot, something that is hard for a dragon to do, and placed the baby in its mother's arms. Then Daiya watched as the mother walked away, the baby clutched tightly to her breast. Dragons we are told are mystical creatures, with magic powers, and for some they do, but dragons do not have the ability to speak.
In the land of the north people, the priests have tried to tell the people that dragons come from the deeps fiery pits, that they are evil, that they steal children from their beds at night. These thoughts pushed the mother faster. There had never been any proof of a dragon doing such things, nor do dragons have magic. As the mother and her baby were running from the dragon in Atwofour the guards and priests were searching the lands of the north for her and her baby.
The Young mother was stooped as she walked a protective barrier from the dragon that had just plucked then from the sea and certain death. In her troubled mind she knew that dragons ate people, isn't that what the priests of the north had believed and what they told everyone.
Daiya stood there, his head drooped and slowly moving back and forth as he felt the mother's fear. So to ease her worried mind Daiya again took flight, soaring high among the clouds, but where he could still watch the mother and her baby.
From high among the clouds, Daiya could see the snow capped peaks of the Yarot hills and to the west his home. Every so often Daiya would see young dragons Playing and racing between the peaks. `Oh to be young again' thought Daiya as he watched.
Glancing down Daiya watched as the mother put her baby under a ledge. Slowly sinking Daiya watched the mother gather wood and start a fire, then again leave and go pick berries. Daiya kept circling and sinking until he sat over the ledge the mother had found.
Dusk was about to settle when Olana, the mother reached the edge of the Yarot hills. With just a few lights twinkling above, Olana found a spot that was almost cave like, where she and her baby could rest. The over hanging rock would give shelter if it rained. The rocks on either side would stop the winds that blew cold against her. She had to search for wood so they could have heat and maybe dry out their clothes. Her other concern was finding some thing for the baby and herself to eat.
The gathering of wood took a short time for just outside her shelter she had found a lot of small branches. With a few arm loads inside her shelter Olana soon had a warm fire going and had hung some of the baby's clothes. Checking to see that the baby was still sleeping, Olana left the shelter and went in search of food. She remembered that as she was walking south she had passed a wild berry bush and from what she saw it looked like the two of them would not be hungry tonight.
With Olana out gather berries, Daiya had come to rest just above her camp and was watching both the baby and Olana. By the fire the baby had opened its eyes and was gazing at the rocks above, the crackling sounds the fire made caused a little giggle to come forth. Olana had just come back into the shelter when she heard her little baby's laugh, bringing a smile to her tired and weathered features. Setting her shawl with it's abundance of berries down, Olana first checked the baby's clothes to see if they were dry, then she picked the baby up and carefully fed him. If dragons could smile Daiya would have a huge one as he watched the love between Olana and her baby. Ever seen a dragon smile? I haven't.
Daiya was still watching, his ears listening for anything that would harm the baby or its mother. As he was listening he heard Olana softly speaking to her baby. "Mine little Anmons, my hearth doth break with each step I taketh." To Daiya the words were strange though he understood; he still had trouble placing it. "I knoweth that we could no longer live in the north, thy people can not accept that which is different, and you my son are that which they detesteth the most." Olana continued, though Daiya no longer listened.
With the berries eaten, the baby's clothes changed, Olana and Anmons were soon sleeping. The fire had been banked so the heat was thrown towards them.
As the two slept Daiya had moved down and was now lying across the shelter opening, this way it would be warmer and safer for the two inside. The Morning found Daiya once more flying high as Olana threw branches on the coals; soon the warmth of the fire covered them. Then Olana fed Anmons more berries. Having eaten, the fire was put out. Gathering her shawl about her, Olana lifted Anmons and started walking south. With each step, she sang the old songs of the north, her voice calm and soothing and soon Anmons was sleeping.
It was close to the middle
of the day when Olana saw the peak of a large mountain many miles in
the distance. She was
resting laid out on the soft grass the warmth of the sun resting on her cheeks; Anmons was laid out on her belly as she stared up at the clear blue sky, and what she thought was a large bird, but was in fact the dragon that had saved them both. She prayed for her boy and his freedom.
When it was time for the evening meal, Olana and Anmons had crossed the sixes mountains and were now heading west. At this time Olana didn't want to walk on any known path where she might be found. Tired, hungry and stumbling along, Olana almost missed the cave entrance, but she didn't miss the smell of roasting mutton. Looking to her right Olana finally saw the cave mouth. Taking steps with trepidation, Olana followed the smell.
The smell of roasting mutton led her into and overly large cavern, the walls blackened by the many sconces that hung about the place. The ceiling was so high that in the dim light it couldn't be seen. Olana saw all this she couldn't help but wonder who built the place. The smell of food woke Anmons and he started crying, he also needed a change of clothes.
At the sound of Anmons crying, shadows started to appear. Olana could see them and heard the whispering of their voices. Frozen in fear, she waited with Anmons still crying. The shadows left their doorways, moving towards her and the crying baby. Olana could see them walking, but the steps were silent, and their torches were casting more shadows.
The Yudits, or cave people were short, with dark eyes and long hair. When they spoke it was in a sing song voice. The effects of their whispering were evident when Anmons ceased his crying. His little hands clutching the ragged blanket that was wrapped him. A thin smile was on his face.
The Yudit people tied back their long hair and as they walked towards Olana their eyes were constantly moving. The clothing they wore looked clean and warm, some even looked new. Their tanned faces showed that they left the caves either to hunt or work their farms.
The Yudit society if one was to ask, is a democratic one, their leaders are elected each year at the time of planting. To be a leader one must show that he or she can do what is best for everyone, and they must win by a seventy five percent margin. After three centuries their system worked perfectly. This is what Olana and her baby walked into.
As the Yudits gathered around Olana and her baby, their whispering grew silent, but their eyes constantly watched. Olana was terrified for herself and Anmons. As she stood there trembling, the Yudits parted and there, slowly walking towards her, was an old Yudit male, his hair was as white as fresh fallen snow on North Lake, his walking stick was almost as tall as he was when standing upright. His eyes still showed the sparkle of youth, though Olana guessed he had to be close to a century old.
"Welcome young mother, I am Loba the leader of the Yudits." Loba spoke his sing-song voice cracked with age.
Slowly finding her voice and still feeling frightened, Olana spoke to another person besides her son. "Thank you kind Loba, My name is Olana, and this is my son Anmons, we are sorry..."
"Did you say your sons name was Anmons?" The leader gasped out.
"Yes Anmons Bravatts." Olana answered. "It was the smell of roasting mutton that brought us in here. We, I mean I didn`t know I would find so many people. Did I do something wrong?" Olana spoke a tremble in her voice.
"Fear not Olana of the North country. Come you and Anmons must be hungry, we shall feed and care for you both for as long as you stay."
"Thank you master Loba, I am afraid I didn't know where to go, nor did I think my travels through, I just ran then we were taken from our sinking boat by a huge hungry dragon, why he didn't eat us I will never know." Olana shivered as she told Loba and the others about her travels and the gold crowned dragon.
"Young mother, not many are saved by Daiya the high dragon. You have been blessed greatly. Now sit, eat and look after Anmons. I will see about some clean clothes for you both.
"Thank you again master Loba, may the God Baldfoot bless you."
By the time Anmons was four he could speak the language of the North people like his mother, but he had also picked up the way the Yudits spoke. Anmons was always running, asking questions and listening to the elders. Olana Never worried about her son. She always told the others to send him home if he became a pest.
In the dark caves Anmons stood out from all the others, not just for his high pitched squeals of laughter that could be heard every now and then, but also for his unnatural white hair that billowed out behind him as he ran. Olana had never thought of cutting it, though she often wondered where the white hair came from. She had tried to use the North Double berries to dye it, but the dye never stayed in. Now in the caves she didn't even try.
Olana's family all had rich auburn hair that if one was to run their fingers through it; it would have felt like silk. Major Bravatt's hair was almost a golden red, so where did the white come from? Olana's reverie was broken by a soft knock on her door followed by the high pitched giggles of Anmons. Opening the door she saw that it was Teide, his long black hair framing his face as he smiled, his eyes sparkled. "Sorry to bother you Miss Olana, however, it seems that your young Anmons got himself into a feast of sour cave berries, then some of the elders fermented juices. My woman Abso has told me that he has been quite sick and wishes and prays that the young lad has learned his lesson." Teide spoke sounding just like Loba did.
Thank you Master Teide, I am sure that he has, I am also sorry if he has caused you and your woman any problems." Olana spoke a small smile on her face.
"Just a bit of one, but he wasn't the only one involved, so don't be too harsh on him."
As Teide and Olana were talking, Anmons though still hidden behind Teide kept peeking out and watching his mother, his dark eyes still shining with mischief and his cheeks a bright red, whether from embarrassment or the juice, one couldn't tell, but mix all that with his white hair and Anmons seemed to glow.
"Anmons come inside; you have wasted enough of master Teide's time." Olana spoke with humor in her voice.
"Yes Mom." Anmons sulked then giggled.
"Thank you again master Teide, and please thank your woman for us also."
"I will miss Olana, and you young man I surely hope you have learned something." Teide spoke gently to Anmons
"Oh I did master Teide I learned that the elders juice is yummy and that sour cave berries are yucky."
For both and master Teide, hearing that coming from Anmons was too much and they both broke out laughing. "Well your son knows what he likes." Teide gasped out between bouts of laughter.
"Just like some one else I once knew, I can say both have had to learn things the hard way." Olana whispered.
"Mom I wanna lay down, I not feel good. Anmons spoke.
"Go ahead Anmons; I'll be into see you in a few minutes." Olana smiled.
"Bye master Teide."
"We will surely see you tomorrow young man, so just get well and listen to your mother." Teide whispered.
"Uh huh I will." Anmons giggled then ran off to his room.
"You are so blessed miss Olana, young Anmons is so quick to learn, so full of questions and seldom is he ever in trouble. Teide spoke softly.
"That he is, always asking questions, some that I can't answer, but he is also full of mischief, the fact he got sick is the only reason he got caught. I doubt that he will try elder's juice again, or for a very long time."
"Well I must be off, the woman will be serving food soon and I have two boys just as sick as Anmons." Teide laughed.
"Pleasant living master Teide, may your night be warm and trouble free."
When Teide had left, Olana silently closed the door and leaned against it, there was a slight smile on her lips as she thought back to how Major Bravatts looked and felt when he had too much juice of certain berries. With those thoughts in her mind Olana slowly walked the hallway to check on Anmons. As she walked she clutched her stomach, a pain causing her to slow even more, she knew that the time had come, there was no stopping the sickness this time it had come back too strong and quickly. Olana knew her time with her son was over and so as she walked back to Anmons rooms she stopped and quickly made up a little pack.
A child's room greeted Olana when she opened the bedroom door the floor although covered with an old Yudit carpet, was strewn with dirty clothes, tossed aside toys and a few children's books. `Where did you get these?' Olana thought as she picked up first one then another, setting them on the small chair that was hidden by a large dresser. Olana couldn't keep the smile off her lips when she sat on the edge of Anmons bed.
Anmons was curled up with his blanket just under his chin. In the darkness of the room, Anmons hair was bright and under his small arm was a stuffed dragon one of the mothers had made for him, the gold crown was just as bright as Anmons hair. `You, Anmons, my wonderful son, are truly blessed and have given me many a blessings too.' Olana whispered. `Try not to grow up to fast though. There are many roads that you must travel and I won't be there to help. I love you Anmons more so each and every day. Now I pray that Daiya watches over you and may he guide and protect you when I am gone.'
Anmons had been asleep when his mother sat on the bed, but woke to her touch. He knew his mom was upset, so when he felt the bed move he kept his eyes closed. He felt the hair being brushed off his face and heard his mother's voice. Today it sounded different, there was a sadness in her words, it was like she was going away and he couldn't go with her.
Anmons fell back to sleep as his mother brushed her fingers through his hair. She then began to sing some of the old north songs, something Anmons hadn't heard for a long time, but he remembered them. So deep was Anmons sleeping that he never knew when his mother left his side and his life.
In her room, Olana sat on her bed, her heart was sore at this parting and tears streaked her cheeks. Picking up her bag Olana quickly slipped away. Leaving the cave Olana walked northwest until she found the trail of no return, not aware that a pair of eyes watched at Olana's last journey.
TEARS AND SMILES
High atop the sixes mountains, between the twin peaks there is a snow covered plateau that stretches for thousands of acres. Scattered here and there one could find bones from many different animals, a testament that something lived up there. On this night a cold north wind was stirring the grass and tickled the ears of Daiya. This was his home and it was here that he had been sleeping when Olana had spoken his name causing him to wake, to listen and to watch. So it was that he was the only one to see Olana leave the Yudit home and start on her last journey. Daiya kept watching till Olana entered the Yudit hills, and then he dropped down to ledge that was just to the left of the Yudit cave entrance. In his Dragon heart he knew and felt that Anmons would come rushing out, looking for his mother and Daiya wanted to be close by.
Everyone knows that dragons don't talk, except in some children's stories. Well the dragons of Atwofour were no different, sure they could speak to each other, and if one could understand the squeaks, squeals and grunts, and if one could make those same sounds, then one could talk to dragons. Now in the written histories that only go back four millennia there had never been a human or Yudit with that ability. No one ever said a Yudit was human.
On this sad night as Daiya lay watching and waiting for Anmons, a young dragon was out flying and looking for food. Seeing Daiya on the ledge the young dragon thought he was food and dove upon him. Now young dragons are poor night flyers, but worse that that they have bad night sight, thus the mistake that Daiya was his meal.
Pellado was a unique dragon, for his skin was purple, and his wings during the day were like silver, while at night they became transparent. This gave Pellado an advantage, for it gave him many tasty birds to snack on. Silver streak streamed down the sides of his body joining together at the tip of his tail.
Daiya saw the young dragon diving at him and with a sweep of his wings soon joined Pellado in search of food, not venturing to far from the sixes mountains. With grunts, squeals and a few squeaks, the two were soon talking, though we couldn't hear them.
"Ah young Pellado, what brings you out on such a sad and windy night?" Daiya asked his eyes still watching the mouth of the Yudit home.
"Oh wise Daiya, I am sorry for diving on you, I thought you were some wild beast from the Yudit hills, and well I was hungry. Then I must practice my night flying. What brings you out oh wise one? Others say you haven't left your home since the white hair boy was found." Pellado spoke in a rush.
"You are right young one, I have stayed to my home and watched both the young mother and her white haired boy, I have seen one grow strong, while the other grows weak and tonight the white haired boy's mother has left him. She has started her journey along the path of no return."
"So you have come down to stop this boy from running after her?"
"That and to protect him, I also want to see for myself if the stories are true, that the birth of Atwofour and the dragon's land greatest hero has finally come."
"But wise Daiya, if the stories are true that would mean the end of us. Dragon's would be no more."
"Pellado, you have once again been listening to Rombec, he is jealous that I was born with the mark of the high dragon. Now ever since we have learned of Anmons and what he will do, Rombec has told all who would listen that with Anmons coming, the end of the dragons would soon follow. That is not true he has twisted the words to fit his thinking."
"Then wise Daiya, why don't you put a stop to it, make him see that his way is wrong?"
"Tell me Pellado what would you have me do?"
"I don't know, tell him he is wrong. Tell him that he can't speak at dragon rallies, if that don't work then he would be exiled to the Jokers desert."
"Come Pellado, let's go rest on the ledge again and speak on this some more."
So it was that Pellado sat until the sun rose, learning about their freedoms. Freedoms granted by the gods and the Ace of Spades for the past four millennia. "Young Pellado, our most cherished freedoms are those of speech and of free thinking. Now if I was to tell Rombec that he was not allowed either of those freedoms, what do you think would happen?"
"He would get mad; maybe tell others that you were taking his, what did you call them? Oh yeah his rights away and that could start us fighting."
"I don't have the right to take those from him and yes he would get mad if I did, but start us fighting, no he still remembers the battle of the river tens as I do. Humans lost millions of lives and we lost tens of thousands. For months that river ran red, the air was rank with the bodies, both human and dragon that were burnt. Young Pellado fights and wars are things that don't happen."
"Wise Daiya, can you tell me what the battle of the river tens was about?"
"That is a story that started more than four thousand years ago, and the end has not yet been written. The battle of the river tens is just one part."
was about to say more when he saw and heard the cries of the running
little white haired boy. "Come Pellado time to save a child's
life, remember to clasp him gently."
"Wise not wise one, but why don't you grab him, and then place him on my back, I can carry him back to his home, and I can watch and learn just how to pick up a lost child."
"Well said Pellado, one has much to learn, even at my age However the dragon laws forbid any human to ride upon us, this is a law that is strictly followed."
"Surely since you are the high dragon, you can allow this child a ride to ease his tears."
"The law is for everyone and no matter who you are, or what titles you hold, no one is above them. As high dragon I should follow and obey the laws more. So we will save this child and take him back to the Yudit home and you young Pellado shall be his guardian from now on."
"I know nothing of being a guardian, surely there is one better suited than I."
"Yes, there are many who could do the job, and yes I could choose such, but as you know nothing of guardian ship, your young ward knows little or nothing of dragons, so you both shall learn together."
"It shall be as you say wise Daiya."
"Just follow what you believe is right, don't let others do your thinking and remember our laws, stand firm if you believe you're in the right and everything will be fine."
"Wise Daiya, that is a huge burden, but I shall do my best."
"I know you will young Pellado."
As Daiya set young Anmons down at the entrance to the Yudit home, Pellado came to rest on the ledge where Daiya and he had talked the night away. Resting his head on his front legs, he watched as Daiya gently set Anmons down. Pellado watched the sad little boy and felt a connection, he could feel the boy's sadness, but he could also feel and unknown strength.
As Daiya flew off, little Anmons sat down in the dirt, looking off to the dragon hills, somehow knowing that his mother had gone towards them. No sooner had Daiya flown off that the door to the home opened and Teide stepped out. The morning sun was painting his hair red. Teide walked over to where Anmons sat. "There you are little one, my woman saw you run out and she was worried. Now come in for it is time for the morning meal." Teide softly spoke.
"I don't wanna eat, I want my mommy back." Anmons cried.
"I know you do Anmons, but she has left on a walk that you cannot go on, not for a long time. You can stay with my woman and my family for as long as you wish."
"Why can't I go with her, don't she want me?"
Teide was at a loss over Anmons question and found that he didn't know what to say that would comfort the little boy. "I am certain your mother wanted you. All the Yudit people knew how much she loved you." Teide tried his best, but still Anmons sat in the dirt watching the hills, hoping he would see his mom. Food and juice were set beside his as the Yudits went to work the farms.
The whole morning Anmons watched, never once seeing his mom. He had eaten the diced fruit and was just finishing the juice when Pellado lifted his head and stretched. Seeing this Anmons tried to stand, but his legs and feet had gone numb from his sitting on them for so long. Laying back Anmons stretched his little body and giggled at Pellado who was trying to catch himself something to eat.
When Anmons could walk again he picked up some of the fruit he had dropped and tried tossing them to Pellado. Now you must forgive Anmons or any four year old who knows nothing about what dragons eat. So when Pellado tried to eat the pieces of fruit it looked funny which made Anmons laugh some more. Then looking as serious as a four year old can Anmons lifted his hand and wagged his finger. "Silly dragon" Anmons said.
Hearing the words and not understanding them Pellado squeaked, only to have Anmons squeak right back at him. Hearing Anmons squeaking at him Pellado froze and almost fell out of the sky. For a dragon that is the ultimate disgrace.
Anmons was rolling in the dirt laughing and squeaking at Pellado when Teide came back for lunch. He had seen the young dragon flying around and had watched as he almost fell out of the sky. When he came upon Anmons squeaking, laughing and rolling around he understood what had happened. Young Anmons was truly a blessed child; he could speak dragon, Yudit and the north language. Who knew what else he would be able to do as he grew older. Now it was time to eat. "Come Anmons it is time to wash and feast." Teide called.
"Yes master Teide. Bye silly dragon. Anmons waved as he stepped inside the home.
"Oh wise Daiya, what have you done to me?" Pellado thought as he watched Anmons wave to him. "This boy is going to be more than a wing full.
As Pellado was laid out on the ledge watching and waiting, Daiya was flying north to the crossover to meet with other high dragons. Anmons dragon speak had been heard by all the dragons. Some from faraway lands, others from beyond the sea of chaos, even more from the lands above the north people. Dragons from all over were flying to the crossover they all wanted to learn more about this boy and what it meant for them.
With Daiya flying north, Rombec was flying south to another meeting. That meeting that would take place in the middle of the Jokers desert. That meeting could spell the end of young Anmons and the high lord dragon Daiya.
Rombec's skin was totally black his eyes were a ruby red that seemed to pierce your soul. His heart was full of hate and this hate was what drove him to meet with Evella and her protégé, an eight year old boy named Worb, both were pure evil and that was something that Rombec understood.
Two meetings many miles apart, both deciding or trying to decide the fate of one little boy and his dragon guardian, one meeting could start a war, the other could bring peace forever and right in the middle sat Anmons and Pellado, neither were aware of what was happening.
Just to the north east of Atreydia, there is a brier bush that starts in the land of dragons and runs a thousand miles to the south ending at the sea of Yudit. This brier serves as a barrier to the imps swamp and the farms just south of Magica. There are two roads that run through the brier, but only one is used. To the north of Imps swamp lays dragon tooth farms and beyond that is the land of Magica. Few have ever ventured into Magica and those that did never remember being there. So there little is known about the land or those who live there.
Magica is a fertile land; its one lake was used to water the few farms that were needed. Wastrels Brier protected the west side and until the battle for the river tens it was impenetrable, unless you knew where to walk. The only other way in back then was to fly. Now there was a road, and with the road came taxes and tolls. The citizens of Magica didn't like the costs, so they never used the road. So with lack of use the road fell into decay.
In Magica there are many things of interest, but none so much as the old decaying house that sat on a small island in the middle of Lake Bravatti. To the adults of Magica the house and island were cursed. They had been told, as had their parents and grandparents that to step on the island is to vanish forever.
Once a week a small boat sailed to the island, as it had for over a hundred years. The lone sailor never stepped on shore, but left boxes of supplies on the small dock, then sailed away. So it came as a surprise, that on the day those supplies were to be dropped that the lone inhabitant to the island was standing on the dock. His long white beard tucked neatly behind a belt of dragon scales. His white hair was hidden under a lavender and gold robe. The walking staff of polished ebony held a diamond shape crystal. The old man's eyes showed a mixture of joy and confusion.
The old man watched as the small sail boat came quickly from the far shore; its single sail billowed by an easterly wind. As soon as the sailor made the dock the old man swiftly stepped down and sat near the bow. "Let's go good sailor, quickly to shore for the child has spoken."
The little boat once more took to sail quickly skimming across the lake. The sailor was a little scared and a lot confused. `What does this old man mean, the child has spoken?' Thought the sailor his hand tight on the tiller. `What child could he mean?'
There really is no dock on the edge of the lake, everyone just sailed right up onto the beach. This sailor was no different. So with the first sounds of scraping sand, the old man, with a speed that belied his age, was out of the boat and walking away. The sailor just sat there shaking his head.
The path from the lake to the town of Magica was clean and neat, fresh laid stones still wet from the morning dew guided the way of the old man. Though the path was empty and quiet which let the old man brood as he walked. The streets of Magica were crowded and noisy. When adults saw the old man walking towards them they gathered the children and hid them in some of the shops. Whether the old man noticed, no one could tell and soon the town was but just a thought.
As the old man was making his way towards the wastrel's brier, the sailor walked into the Conjurors pub. It wasn't yet the eleventh hour of the day. Sitting at the bar he ordered the largest glass of Elders juice he could. To the barkeep this was strange, one reason being that this sailor never touched Elders juice, and the other reason was that no one dared drink before the town mayor had his first.
The barkeep after serving the sailor sat back and listened, all he heard over and over was, "The child has spoken. The old man says the child has spoken. Who does he mean?" the words were whispered, but clearly heard. To the sailor this meant nothing for he was new to Magica, having only lived there for the past four years. To the barkeep and others it meant a time of change.
Right at the noon feasting, those who cared to look towards the lake would have seen a trail of smoke as the old man's home burnt away as the island sank. By the time the noon feasting was over, everyone had heard that the old man had left his island and had left Magica all together. They had also heard the barkeeps story about the sailor and his words about the child. To some this was a happy time, for others a time of endings. The mayor in all his pompous, arrogant ways made it clear to all that from hence forth the streets and buildings were to be kept clean. No one knew when the child would come.
A SPY AND A CHOICE:
It is said that dragons take forever to make any sort of decision, you ask any dragon (that is if you speak dragon) a question and he will take forever to answer. Now if you stood by the river tens and looked to the northwest, you would see a reddish orange hue in the night sky. This glow emanated from the center of Daiya's crossover. The meeting place of the dragons, now you're asking yourself how can there be a fire, since dragons don't spit flames. Well your right no dragon could ever spit fire, so it must be that Daiya's crossover is enchanted, and it is.
Now as the dragons were arguing for the start of the fourth year about the boy with dragon speech, a set of dark eyes watched from the rocks close by. Theses eyes had been hidden there for the past two weeks, waiting for some sort of answer, but all he saw were dragons sitting around, his little ears picking up squeaks, squeals and grunts. The person behind theses eyes could and would never understand dragon speech, for his guardian had never taught him how.
Twelve year old Worb wasn't inherently evil, but his guardian had raised him to be. Worb had been the only son to a pair of fisher folk. When he was a baby, they lived on the border to the Jokers desert and fished in the sea of Chaos, or gathered Crustys from the Niner harbor. When Worb was four months old his folks disappeared, though their boat was later found beached in Black sand bay. From then till he was four Worb lived with the mayor of Niner.
Worb was a happy child till the summer that Evella showed up, claiming to be his aunt and guardian. Now eight years later Worb hated anything he couldn't have. Worb was taught his black magic and was also taught to despise anyone who was weak. Whenever Worb magically made something to play with, his aunt made him destroy it, not just break it, but make it go away. This was his teachings and now here he was stuck in the rocks spying on a bunch of old dragons, starving and barely staying warm.
The fire that warmed Daiya's crossover was bright and the heat felt good to those that were there. For Daiya the fire was just what he needed to warm his old bones as he sat listening to the High dragon from beyond the Sea of Chaos. "I tell you this child is the end of us." Chleeb grunted. "Our histories tell us this; I say we dispose of him at once."
"The histories could be wrong; the coming of this child could mean the end of Evella and her confounded desert." Washto spoke. He was the high dragon from the North people.
For hours, the days the two argued back and forth, neither one winning. Sometimes dragons can be so stubborn. When the two started again on the morning of the fifth day Daiya raised his head. "My friends, it seems like we could argue about this forever, but we won't. We all agreed rather quickly that the teachings of Rombec are wrong, we also agreed that should he continue in his ways that he will be exiled to the furthest island in the North. However for the past little while, (three years) we cannot decide the fate of one little boy.
I have sensed that one shall come, No I fear that he is coming. One that will take the boy and raise him; if the old one succeeds then we shall always fly free. The decision now and one that must be quick, is do we protect this child always or let the fates decide."
"I say let the child be." Chleeb spoke his choice.
"Protecting children has been our purpose, way before the cursed Evella was born. I say we continue, protect this child, but watch closely also. Washto spoke.
And so it went, dragon after dragon saying yes or no as to whether the child should be protected. The sun had just touched the tips of the crossover when it came time for Daiya to cast his choice. "We all know that our kind (that being dragons) sometimes make slow decisions, it isn't that we are slow, it is because we listen to everything that is said. The decision of what to do with Anmons, the child with dragon speech, is one that we have all thought about carefully. Two thirds of you wish to help this child as do I, to the rest of you, I wish you all the best and hope the great dragon allows you to join us for out next conclave. That will be when Anmons takes his walk along the trail of one. That should be in a long time. (Six years) For now may your wings never fail. This meeting is now over." Daiya spoke.
If dragons had shoulders like we (humans) do the Word would have seen Daiya's slump, but they don't so Daiya just hung his head. He was tired. For Worb, the way the dragons were gathered told him something had occurred. Then as Worb watched, all but Daiya left the meeting. Daiya just stretched out, his belly towards the fire and slept.
With just one dragon left, Worb waited hoping that Daiya would leave. All Worb wanted was to sit by the fire and get warm. The last two the Crossover mountains had gotten cold and Worb almost froze, it was only the use of his magic that kept him partially warm, The time had come, the fire was still blazing and to a cold body it was inviting. So with careful steps Worb made his way close to the fire, in fact he got so close that the heat was too much. Backing off a bit Worb curled up on the ground, where he was finally warm, all too soon like Daiya, Worb was sleeping.
The chill of the early morning woke Worb, though it was still dark he could see the peaks of the Crossover. The fire was out and the rocks cold. Standing Worb started to walk around, his thin body needing the heat. When it was light enough Worb started to climb the rocks, hoping that the black dragon was there to take him back home where he knew it was warm.
Rocks and boys seem to always go together; but on this morning, the chill that was in the air and the dampness that had seeped into Worb's bones made it really hard going. To Worb it was like every rock was either in his way or just too big to climb over. Halfway up Worb had to rest, his legs hurt and he was out of breath, but at least he was warm now.
High above the Crossover Mountains, dark clouds floated soon to let loose the rain they held, and above and below these clouds two large specks flew. Every so often if one was looking up they would see a flash of sunlight breaking through the clouds. Daiya had woken early and left the dragon's valley in search of food. With Daiya gone, the fire went out. The heat quickly dissipated leaving the rocks cold. Now with his hunger sated he was enjoying the early morning sun.
Below the clouds, Rombec flew his black scales hiding him in the dark clouds, making it hard to see him. Rombec had seen the boy curled up beside the fire, he could also see Daiya there also, so Rombec stayed atop the mountains. Now he watched as Worb tried to climb his way out of the valley. `Teach him to disobey his master.' Rombec thought as he started to slowly circle his way down.
Rombec saw the boy sit for a while then start again. Sure Rombec could have got the boy from either the valley or from where he sat to rest, but there was something about Rombec that no one knew. Rombec hated humans, but he wanted to be high dragon, so he put up with this boy and his guardian.
The top of the Crossovers is cracked and broken, step in the wrong place and you could fall forever, or just a few feet. Worb made it to the top out of breath and no strength left to go on. He was just about to sit when he felt the claws of the black dragon grab him then he was rushing down the side of the mountain. Rombec had the boy and was heading back to his master. More than a few times Rombec thought of dropping the boy just to see his puny little body bounce and break among the rocks, but he never did. He just kept flying south.
Worb had learned nothing that would help his guardian or Rombec, and Rombec by choosing not to drop the boy when he had the chance, set in motion a set of events that would take many years for the humans to fix. It would also take a few dragons and many human lives before the end was seen.
KEEPS AND TEARS:
To many a sailor, Acramada atoll was just a huge pile of rocks, with no safe place to step ashore. Acramada was old, it is said that the gods made it just to annoy the sailors. Now when the old man had left his home and island in Magica he had made his way across the land and through the forest of the gods to stand on the shore of the Princess Sea. As he looked out over the Princess Sea to the peaks of Acramada, he saw from the corner of his eye a medium size sail come floating around the point of Dragon's cove. Then he watched as it slowly came to the shore a few feet from where the old man was standing.
The sailor who sat at the tiller was old. A scraggly beard covered his chin and the glasses that barely hung on his nose made his eyes look like two polished black stones. His toothless smile and his laughter broke the old man's thoughts. "Brother Korm, it has been many along years since we last sailed together." The sailor spoke as he pushed the boat back into the water.
"That it has brother Lash, it was during the battle I think it was or shortly thereafter."
"I don't recall, my memory ain't as good as it use to be." Lash laughed.
"I doubt that for a minute Lash, you have never forgotten anything, I just hope you remember where to land on Acramada."
"So it is true, the boy has been born?"
"Yes and he speaks the way of the dragon."
"So now we are either blessed or cursed."
"For now we are neither, the boy has yet to learn his lessons from the people he is with and then he must learn his magic."
"So then why must we sail to the magician's keep?"
"To learn, we are the last of the wizards, one of us must teach this child."
"How long do we have before the boy will leave the Yudit home?" Lash asked as he rounded the north end of Acramada and found the small entrance that he was searching for.
"I don't know, the dragons are meeting also, and you know how dragons are." Korm spoke as he stepped from the boat.
"Yeah slow, but that is nothing new. When do you want me to come back for you?"
"You will know. Just be ready."
The boat was gone and Korm was again alone. The entrance had disappeared as he walked the path that led down to the libraries of histories. The damp walls gave off a soft glow from the algae that were slowly growing. The deeper Korm walked, the warmer and dryer it got. The route to the libraries was a circuitous route and took hours to get to them.
The libraries, when Korm finally got to them, were in overly large rooms they were long but not really wide. The shelves were cut right into the stone. Each shelf was filled to overflowing with old yellow parchments. In the center of the room, running from the door to the back wall was a table. If one looked they would not find a seat and they would also notice that the table itself was cut from the floor. The low incandescent light filtered down in streams, to leave patches all up and down the table.
Korm knew where he had to look, but not which roll to read, so the task was going to be momentous. As Korm was looking through Magicians Keep, Rombec was flying south with Worb in his grasp. Daiya was back atop the Sixes Mountain. That left Pellado once more sitting just above the Yudit home door watching for Anmons to come back out.
Inside the home Anmons was sitting with Teide and his family, after washing the dust off. The noon feast was flat bread with crab berry jam, more fresh fruit and fresh lamb's milk. As Teide and his family ate, Anmons just nibbled at some fruit, though the family tried, nothing they did could make him smile, so after eating a bit Anmons left and went back to his mother's home, where he curled up on her bed and cried himself to sleep.
Every day for six months Anmons would sleep in his mother's bed after having his meals with master Teide and his family. During the day Anmons would sit on the ledge overlooking the Yudit home and stare off towards the mountains that he knew his mother had walked towards. Pellado would always be there with him trying to make him smile or laugh, though nothing he did seemed to work. It was during this time that both Anmons and Pellado grew closer building a bond and trust. Anmons learning more dragon speak and Pellado learning to understand more of the ways that humans think; though learning from a five year old was confusing, it was fun. Then just after Anmons fifth birth year he woke, got dressed and for the last time closed the door to his mother's home and went to live with Teide and his family.
While living with Teide, Anmons started his schooling. Though he already knew how to read, he had to start fresh with his writing and letters, but for young Anmons the lessons were easy for him to pick up and soon he was doing as well as the rest of the children.
Three months after moving in with Teide's family and while they were having their evening feast, Anmons looked up and in his squeaky voice spoke. "Master Teide, my reading teacher thinks I should start reading the Yudit histories, he thinks it will help me later, what does he mean?"
"I am not sure, but I will ask him, in the mean time I will get you some of our histories." Teide answered.
When Anmons was done eating he took the book he was reading and went outside, and climbed to the ledge where Pellado was laid out enjoying the last of the evening's sun. Leaning against Pellado's side, Anmons started to read aloud.
Now if one was to come upon Anmons laid out like he was and if they were to listen, all they would hear would be a bunch of grunts, squeals and squeaks. Now if they understood those sounds they would laugh when they realized that Anmons was reading a child's story to a dragon. That was how it went every night till the sun went down. With the sun gone and Anmons unable to read, Pellado would try to tell Anmons the histories, folk tales and laws that the dragons had to follow.
"The best one to tell you all this Anmons would be High dragon Daiya." Squealed Pellado softly. "But he has gone away for a while."
"That's okay, I like you, you're not loud like people are. Also not trying to make me speak good." Anmons whispered.
"From what Daiya says." Pellado grunted. "Humans try to make their hatchlings better than they are by making them speak correctly."
"Why? No one gonna listen to me."
listen to you, and the more you speak to me and the more of our
language you learn, the more precise you will have to be."
"But I'm just a kid."
"You won't always be, like all hatchlings you will grow up."
"What if I don't wanna grow up?"
"All things grow up, trees, plants, dragons and little white haired boys like you."
"They just do."
"Oh." Anmons was going to say more when master Teide climbed up. "Come little one it is way past your sleep time."
"Yes Master Teide, night Pellado." Anmons squealed.
"Good sleep young hatchling, may the great dragon watch over us all." Pellado squeaked back.
Teide just stood, sometimes shaking his head as he listened to young Anmons. "Master Teide what is a hatchling?" Anmons asked.
"That young Anmons is what we call any baby that is born from an egg."
"So I was born from and egg?"
"No Anmons, your mother gave birth to you after carrying you under her heart for a long time."
"Then why does Pellado call me a hatchling?"
"It is probably his way of saying he likes you."
"Oh, then it okay, cuz I like him also."
"I can tell just by the way you spend time together, you two are like your brothers and their pet Hawkeyes. The only thing is you don't bring him home." Teide laughed. He always took the time to answer all his boy's questions, no matter how silly they may seem.
"Master Teide, Pellado says that their laws won't let people ride on their backs, says that this law was made after a lot of fighting."
"You seem to be learning a lot for someone who is only five."
"But I like to learn new things; I guess I should be more like my new brothers."
"I didn't say that, but it might help if you were just a child. You should be playing, running around and having a good time."
After washing and climbing into bed, Anmons said his prayers to all the gods as Teide tucked him. "Anmons please try not to grow up to fast." Teide whispered.
"Mom said that before she went away." Sniffed Anmons.
"I am sorry Anmons, but she was right."
"I miss her lots."
"I miss her to, your mother was good to talk too, and she made a lot of people smile."
"Night master Teide."
"Night young Anmons, may you sleep safe, with happy dreams." Teide spoke and prayed as he stood and watched as Anmons curled up with his stuffed dragon. Leaving the door slightly open, Teide went and checked the other two boys before joining his wife Abso in the comfort room. The warm fire and a glass of Elders juice waited him with his wife.
Abos was a middle aged woman, with grey streaking her hair, she was a plumpy woman. She couldn't understand Anmons and had a strong fear of him. It wasn't a fear because she didn't like him; it was because he was supposed to be the savior of all human kind. "My husband, your mind seems troubled." Abso spoke softly. "Has young Anmons again caused problems for us?"
"No, but he is so full of questions, more so than the other two."
"Well he always has his face in a book, and then he is always making those awful noises whenever he is outside. There is some that are starting to believe he is either cursed, evil or both."
"Well he is neither; he is just a normal boy that needs to be guided right. As for those noises, as you call them, well they are a way of speaking."
"You call that normal, well I don't and I think it should be stopped."
"Stopped, by who, you, me, neither of us can stop a gift that the gods have given.
"Surely if you told him to stop he would."
"I am sure he would, but I am not even going to ask. He only does that when his dragon friend is around. I have listened to them both and it is like when we talk, to them it is a learning process."
"So I have to listen to him squeal and grunt every time we go to the farms."
"You don't have to listen, but if you take Anmons with you then you better get used to it."
Anmons was in tears. He had gotten up for a drink and he had overheard what Teide and Abso were saying. Back in his bedroom he sat on his bed hugging his dragon as tears streaked his cheeks. "You my only friend I got." He whispered. "My mom didn't want me, and now I not wanted here. I wish we never come here."
Anmons soon cried himself out, his stuffed dragon wet from his tears. Anmons soon curled up and went back to sleep.
Outside on the ledge Pellado who had just finished his little meal and was almost asleep, sat up, his head cocked towards the door. He felt Anmons hurt and heard his whispered words, but they were in human speech so he did not understand. He just knew his little friend was suffering.
Do Dragons cry, I don't know, but it has been said that there tears are large, and some say that a dragon's tear is magic, but only if freshly caught. On this night dragon tears fell like rain, both on the ledge above the Yudit home and high among the peaks where Daiya slept. Both Pellado and Daiya had felt the sufferings of Anmons, but only Daiya knew that this was one of the many lessons that Anmons must go through before the summer of his eighth life year.
Daiya and Pellado were not the only ones to feel Anmons troubles, Far away, deep in the magicians keep; Korm looked up from his reading, looking off towards the sixes mountains and the home of the Yudit people. `Be at peace little one for just a little longer.' Thought Korm as he resumed his reading
Of the three that could help Anmons, only Pellado was close enough, but for what he was thinking, even though he felt he was right, it meant breaking the dragon laws, and Pellado knew that to break the law of no riders was to face exile forever. His mind made up Pellado waited for the light that flew across the sky to come, and then he knew that it would not be long before his little friend would show. Down in the home of master Teide, Anmons was tossing in his sleep, his white hair splayed across his pillow and more tears dripped down his cheeks.
LAWS AND LAUGHTER:
To some dragons sleep is precious, like humans the older you get the more sleep you need, or so it seems. Pellado was considered young, but he just loved his sleep, so when the breeze was stirred and bits of dust hit his sides, Pellado lifted his head and searched for whatever it was that disturbed him. The sound of flapping wings brought Pellado's head around and over his back. There was Daiya, his huge body blotting out the light. "Come Pellado, fly and hunt with me." Daiya softly squealed. His large black eyes reflecting his age and the last few stars that hung low in the sky.
"I would wise Daiya, but I must wait for Anmons." Squeaked Pellado in reply his own eyes still fixed upon Daiya just hovering above him.
"I know you wait for him. But I think you must come. A few others have felt Anmons suffering, but they can do nothing to help, I feel that you being young might do something hasty and in doing so could place you in peril."
"All I wish, no all I can think of wise Daiya is to give young Anmons a few moments of laughter, I have heard his tears, and I have felt his pains. A boy so young should not have any of those."
"Pellado you yourself are still young. There is so much about humans that you must learn. I chose you to be a guardian, but maybe my choice was wrong. Over the years dragons have learned not to become attached to the children that we watch over..."
"No, you didn't make a wrong choice, I am learning about humans, I know that young Anmons is still just a hatchling, but he is wise beyond his five summers. Please don't make me leave him." Pellado interrupted.
"I see you have learned one human trait, and that is to interrupt and assume things. Now shall we fly, hunt and talk about this some more."
"Yes, I am sorry to interrupt."
"You are starting to talk like Anmons; maybe a few days at the crossover will correct that." Daiya grunted as the two rose high over the sixes mountains.
The sun had risen as the two were talking, so as they hunted there came flashes of golden light that splashed across Pellado's silver streak, then off to the mountain peaks. The two flew across the youthful mountains and up to Fire gorge where they knew they would find lots of fresh goat meat. For Pellado the lessons he learned from Daiya helped him with the choice he had made earlier and he spoke, having thought it over carefully and chosen his words with lots of thought. "Daiya you have taught me to do what I this is right, you also told me to stand firm in my belief. Well I know that I am young and you may think I don't know anything, but I know that sometimes we have to make choices, and the choices that we make may be wrong to some and may break the dragon laws, but if like you said stand firm in what you think is right, then who is to say the laws have been broken." Pellado asked his head bowed.
"You have listened well, and from what you have said just now, you have thought long about this. The dragon laws were written so as to protect both the humans and dragons. I don't know what choices you have made, nor do I know what laws you will be breaking, but a word of advice, don't get caught."
"I always listen to you, no greater teacher is there. So I ask if I was to break a law and not get caught doing so, where do you suggest I go?"
"Understand this young Pellado, that until such time as to when you tell me what your choice is, I cannot tell you where you should do it."
"If I were to tell you, there is the chance you could send me to Jokers desert or beyond."
"Then I would take your ward to Daiya's Crossover, and stay below the peaks."
"You know what I am going to do?"
"We all have made choices where the high dragon has guessed all about it, though I must admit that your choice is one that has not been made since the battle of the river tens. I will make like we never talked about this."
"Thank you wise Daiya, I shall do as you suggest."
The two had eaten their fill and had flown back to Pellado's ledge. Resting they watched as the cave door slowly opened and a white head peered out. "It seems like Anmons is trying to sneak away." Pellado quietly squeaked.
"That it does, but I am sure you can convince him to come back to the cave." Daiya answered.
"I am not too sure I can."
"Do not cut yourself short, you are his friend and sometimes the words of a friend are all that are needed to help."
Pellado watched as Anmons stepped out and looked to the ledge. Seeing his friend was alone he sat with his feet swinging. Anmons hadn't sat for long before he heard the sound of flapping wings and the squeaks of farewell as Daiya took to the air, his great body casting long shadows over Anmons as he started to circle the sixes mountains.
With Daiya gone Pellado sailed off the ledge and gently grasped Anmons. Soon the two were soaring off over the Yudit hills, the squeals of laughter coming from Anmons could only be heard by Pellado and then lost in the mountain crags.
Beyond the eyes of everyone, be it dragon or human, beyond where anyone could hear, Pellado sank to the grass. Letting Anmons crawl from his grasp he waited, watching as Anmons stumbles around a bit before plopping down beside Pellado.
"Pell," Squealed Anmons. "Why you bring me here?"
"Friend Anmons, we are going further, we are going to Daiya's Crossover, where you can laugh and run and ride upon my back."
"But I thought, I not allowed to?"
"Usually, but Daiya said if I did anything, that I shouldn't get caught, he even suggested we go to the crossover."
"So you being a bad dragon?" Anmons giggled.
"Yes bad, but for a reason I believe is right."
"I not understand."
"Well it is hard to explain, but I feel that it is right that you should laugh and smile, I believe that you shouldn't have to feel unwanted. So I chose to be bad to give you some happiness."
it okay to be bad if it make people happy?"
"Not always, you have to think about it very hard before you do anything."
"Well you don't gotta be bad cause of me."
"No I don't, but I am so that you can laugh."
"Oh so this is all for me?"
For a few minutes nothing was said, as the two sat together. Then with the gentle prodding, Pellado nudged Anmons on to his back, then with gentle sweeps of his wings Pellado was soon flying north towards the crossovers. In order not to get caught, Pellado, stayed close to the ground, the grass rushing by, and the sounds of Anmons laughter the only things that Pellado knew.
Summers come and summers go; that is just part of the life cycle. The summer rains that would wash the rocks and settle the dust in the streets of Atwofour were always a blessing to the people. Hundreds of miles south the Jokers desert was a vast wasteland of sand. It never rained there so everything was dry and stunted.
Life didn't last long in the desert unless you knew where the water was. If you entered the desert every so often you might find a wild creature, and if they moved or ran from you they would stir the sand a bit. As you walked south through the desert you might get lucky and a light breeze might happen. Look to the south east and you see the dunes of despair, the mile wide dunes were nothing but soft blowing sand, that if you were walking through them would bite at you, so you had to be covered at all times, then there is the fact that because the dunes were soft each step taken was like stepping into deep sucking mud.
If you made it through the dunes you would either come upon the sea of Yudit or enter in to despair inlet, which led out into the sea of Chaos. However if you were to walk south along the west side of the dunes you would find the stream of deception, the water looking clear and sweet, very tempting to a parched throat, but on sip and you would die. Cross that stream and you were close to the home of Evella; a woman without remorse, a woman that wanted it all. To her total control of Atwofour was all that mattered.
Evella stood an even five feet tall. Her long boney fingers always seemed to be reaching out, trying to find your soul. Her dark eyes and long grey hair were all that showed her age. Evella's home was a cave that she had carved out of the desert. Deep and dry, the walls a mixture of desert sand and rock, creating a patch work of mayhem. Stone benches and table sat in the center of the main room, the oil and wax lamps having stained the top. To the back and right of the cave was the cage. This is where Evella kept her ward, the torn thread bare blanket was the only thing that covered nine year old Worb as he sat and listened to Evella's mutterings.
Evella sat at her table a large bowl beside he filled with water and oil. Evella's muttering caused the mixture to ripple then flatten out, the surface a mirror into which she gazed. As she stared, her mutterings became louder, she was trying to force the bowl to show her what he brothers Lash and Korm were doing. With a loud shriek Evella smashed the bowl away, the water and oil splashing over Worb, who at the sound of her scream have crawled to the furthest corner of his cage. The bowl shattering as it hit the floor. "Come here you nasty little crusty, clean this mess up and then find me another bowl." Evella screamed her voice coarse and dry.
"Yes Mistress Evella." Worb croaked his body shaking with fear and revulsion. Worb despised the cave, the café and most of all, his guardian.
"Hurry up, I haven't got all night."
A new bowl, the water fresh and new oil, Evella once more tried finding her brothers. A half hour later she gave up, her brothers remained hidden.
Worb having cleaned up and changed went into the back if the cave, looking around Worb tried to scrounge up something to eat. Empty shelves were all that Worb saw. As he looking around, Evella stormed into the back, fresh sand crabs in a basket. Tossing them to Worb she sneered. "Cook these up and then get some vegetables out of the river."
"Yes mistress Evella."
That was how the cave of Turmoil worked, but Evella refused to move back to the town of Niner and into the house of Worb's parents. As long as they lived in the Cave, Evella's brother stayed hidden.
A SOUR JOKER:
Over the dragon hills and north along the grasslands a shadow made its way, the sounds of a little boy's laughter falling behind. Pellado flew over the land with Anmons laid out on his back. Back and forth over little streams drawing closer to Daiya's crossover.
The base of the crossovers soon flew past as up the side the two rose, the rocks and grass a blur. Over the top and down the other side they went and still Anmons squealed in delight. Once in the valley of the dragon Pellado settled onto the grass, his wings folding against his sides, his head bowing so that Anmons could gently slip to the ground.
Remember my young friends that Daiya's crossover is a mystical place, so when young Pellado's feet touched the grass the fire started and both Pellado and Anmons could feel its warmth. "Pell," Anmons squeaked. "That was fun; can we do it more please?"
"Yes Anmons, we have most of the day, then it will be back to home for you." Pellado answered.
"But I don't wanna go home, Mistress Abso, she don't like me, they don't want me either."
"Anmons you know that is not true."
"Yeah it is, I heard them talking, she hates me and she thinks I am cursed, whatever that means."
me how she thinks you're cursed?"
"Cuz I make funny noises, cuz I talk with you."
"She probably doesn't know about dragon speech, not many do you know."
"Oh how come I know it?"
"I don't know except to say you are a very special boy. The gods must have a reason."
"Let's fly more, it fun.
"Okay little one, up you go."
So it was that little Anmons spent the day sitting on Pellado's back, laughing and clapping his hands as they flew across and around the valley floor. This was Anmons day, a day where nothing could go wrong. As the light that flew across they sky started sinking, Pellado and Anmons left the crossover and went back to the Sixes Mountains and home to master Teide.
When Pellado went to set Anmons down upon the ledge, he saw a man standing there his bare arms folded across his chest and a frown upon his tanned face. Pellado watched this man step back, allowing him to set Anmons down. When Anmons stepped free of Pellado's grasp, there was a huge smile on his face, a reddish tinge to his cheeks and a wind blown look to his hair. "Thank you Pell that was fun..." Anmons started to say when a shadow covered him.
"Well young Anmons, it seems that you had a good day." Teide spoke.
"Yup, I did master Teide." Anmons answered with a giggle as he looked up into Teide's face, showing nothing but joy in his smile.
"Well you had a lot of people worried, some even though you might have fallen into a hole or something."
"I sorry, what you gonna do?"
"Hmm, I think I will have to take you inside and feed you. I doubt that either of you thought about food on your little adventure."
Giggling some more Anmons looked at the sand between his feet. "Umm uh huh, I forgot."
"Well little one come on, I think there is some fruit left from lunch."
"Okay bye Pell." Anmons squealed as he hoped down among the rocks.
When Pellado had settled to the ledge, he saw the man move to stand behind Anmons. Pellado listened as Anmons thanked him and listen even more as the two spoke together in human. Pellado knew the man was upset, but not enough to hurt his friend. When Anmons giggled Pellado knew that Anmons would be okay.
When Anmons squealed by and left with the man, Pellado closed his eyes and went to sleep. He was tired and his wings hurt and yes he was a bit hungry, but for now he just wanted to sleep.
High up among the peaks Daiya circled slowly as he watched Pellado resting. When Daiya was sure that Anmons was safe and inside his home, he too touched the ground, curling his tail then Daiya too was soon a sleep. Little children, Daiya knew, could tire out any one, even old dragons like him.
While Pellado and Daiya slept, Anmons was in the cleaning room washing the dust off his face and hands, his two adopted brothers were standing there watching. In the kitchen Abso set a dish off fruit out on the table and was busy baking some flat cake for dinner. Her voice low so the boys could not hear her. "So you are going to let him worry us half to darkness, and not do anything about it." Abso Asked, the anger in her voice prevalent.
"I didn't say that, I told him that I would feed him, I didn't say anything else." Teide started. "Woman, if you had just seen his face, the smile that hasn't been there for so long was back, along with the laughter. I doubt that even you could see and hear that and still be mad."
"Don't be too sure about that. Why you even talked me into letting his live with is I'll never know; he is nothing but trouble."
"Now Abso you can't mean that, he needs a mother, a family and you agreed..."
"Master Teide, I sorry I was bad." Anmons whispered as he sat and looked at the berries that Abso had set out.
"Well Anmons I think that in the future you should tell someone where you are going." Teide answered as he sat down with Anmons.
"I will I promise," Anmons spoke as he stuffed a very sour berry in his mouth; with jus one bite he spit it out into his hand, his face looking like a wrinkled plum. "Yuck." Squeaked Anmons as he placed the berry on his napkin.
Teide watched the whole thing. At first he smiled, then a frown formed upon his face as he saw Anmons bowl full of the sour berries. In the kitchen, Abso and the boys heard Anmons outburst and all three grinned, that grin soon faded when the heard Anmons giggle. "These are yummy master Teide, more please." Anmons asked.
When Teide saw what Abso had done at first he was angry, then he took the bowl and motioning Anmons to be quiet he set it aside and fill the bowl with sweet dragon berries the boys had harvested that morning. The giggles that followed Anmons first bite made Teide smile inwardly.
Looking up Teide saw his two boys that were peeking, their little heads around the kitchen door. Their bright eyes wide as they watched Anmons eating what they thought were sour berries. "These are yummy, more please." Anmons asked.
"I thought you said cave berries were yuck." Teide said trying not to laugh as he watched both his boys and Anmons.
"Thank was before, now I think they good."
"Well if you want more then I will get you some."
Hearing their father say this both boys rushed in and sat in front of Anmons. "Can we have some to father?" They asked.
"Are you sure, sour berries are hard to eat." Teide replied
"Yes father, if Anmons can eat them then we can." The both said together.
Three bowls were set on the table, Anmons slowly eating his dragon berries while the boys tried to swallow their Cave berries. Watching then Anmons couldn't help but start to giggle. Once finished Anmons left the table and went to his room where he curled up and read.
"Well boys are you finished?" Teide asked
"Umm father, I can't eat anymore." Teide's youngest son Soroc answered.
"Why not, young Anmons ate two bowls of them."
"Well he is kinda strange." Tasis answered.
Tasis was like his mother, short with a thin face and wavy hair, he didn't have the strong dislike for Anmons that his mother did, but it was there all the same. Tasis thought Anmons was spoiled.
"So whose idea was it to feed him sour berries?" Teide asked.
"Both ours, and well moms also." Tasis answered.
"Well then eat up; I am sure that Anmons has a belly ache now."
"But father." Soroc Cried. "I already got a tummy ache."
"Then hop down and off to bed with you, or do you want to finish Anmons bowl also?"
"No thank you father." Soroc mumbled.
While all this was happening Tasis was forcing himself to eat his sour berries, His face showing his displeasure. Tasis watched as his father pushed Anmons bowl towards his brother. "Boys," Teide started. "There are many lessons on must learn in life, and sometimes those lessons are hard. What started out a possible joke against Anmons has turned into a lesson for you both. Now I want you both to take a berry from Anmons bowl and eat it. Then think about what you have learned."
Both boys took a berry from the bowl and did as their father said. Surprise showed on their faces as the sweetness filled their mouths. "Father that was cruel." Tasis whispered.
"Yeah you're mean." Soroc interjected.
"You both thought it was funny when it happened to Anmons." Teide responded.
"But it was a joke." Soroc mumbled.
"A sour joke for you two, now I hope you remember this lesson."
HELLOS AND GOODBYES:
The sunlight hurt his eyes, his dusty hair no longer hidden under his robes waved in the breeze. For four summers, Korm had stayed in magicians keep reading and searching for the name of the boy's teacher. By the end of Korm's second summer he had learned all about Anmons, his mother and of Major Bravatt. Korm had also learned f the bond that was to be had between Anmons and the dragon Pellado. Still Korm read on, learning all he could; and with each year that past Korm grew more and more worried. The teachers name was missing.
As the beginning of Anmons seventh summer started, Korm was almost frantic, everything he had read so far stated that the teacher was to take young Anmons before his eighth birth year and go to the land (province) of Magica. Still no name was found. So it was when the light that flies across the sky was at its warmest Korm left the keep's library and made his way to the entrance. Squinting, he watched as his brother Lash sailed up to the shore. "Brother Korm." Lash spoke as Korm stepped into the boat. "It looks like all you have had to eat are the sour berries from the Yudit cave."
"It is good to see you too Lash and I wish it was the sour berries. Four summers I have spent reading, searching for what I hoped was not true."
"It is true, Anmons has been born, his hair it is said is like fresh, fallen snow."
"So he is here. As long as he doesn't learn his magic the prophecy won't come true."
"That is true, but there is the woman of Jokers desert, she searches for us." Korm refused to use Evella's name "She also seeks the boy."
"Then leave him where he is. The Yudit home has hidden him for seven summers."
"Yes it has, but the boy grows reckless as does his dragon guardian. No I think Anmons must go to Magica."
"Brother, I hope you know what it is you are about to do?"
"Lash if I knew that, then I would not be doing it. We both know that the keep holds all the world's histories since the times of the gods. It is through these records that I have learned that it will not be magic that ends this era, but words, words spoke in truth and sincerity."
"So this sour look that you wear is because of?"
"Because I assume that I must teach young Anmons his lessons, and you Lash must keep watch on his dragon."
"Darn, here I thought I could forget all my dragon speech."
"No Lash, even after the many millenniums you have and all the fermented elders juice that soaks your veins there is not a chance for you to forget."
"And for how long must I grunt, squeal and squeak again?"
"Not long, just six years."
"SIX YEARS!" Lash screeched.
"Not so loud, are you trying to deafen the fish and crusties."
"But why does it have to be six years?"
"Don't worry it will go by fast, all you have to do is read him the treaty between the dragons, the gods and the rulers of Atwofour."
"That would put any one to sleep for a long time. Lash laughed as he grounded his little boat just north of Tail point.
"If that doesn't work then try reading him the histories of the Gods." Korm Chuckled.
"Sometimes Korm I think you're as evil as she is. The histories, by all that swims; those would bore anything to death."
"True, but it could be the first time you ever read them."
"So history was a bore to me, I liked other more practical lessons."
"Speaking of lessons; how is your wife?"
"Like she always is. I would have been better off with a dragon for a mate."
"Now she can't be that bad."
"You don't know her like I do, always on about this or that. She gets worse if I decide to go sailing. I can't believe that Madfoot would hold a grudge for so long."
"It hasn't been that long."
"NOT LONG, Eight millennium, you don't call that long?"
"Well maybe to you and me, but to Madfoot it could be just days, weeks or a few summers."
"Whatever it is, I just wish he would forget it and end her harping and nagging."
"That is between you and him, now be good and sail safe Brother Lash and may the gods protect you."
"Good bye brother Korm, walk safe and may the god Daiya watch over you."
Turning his back Korm stepped out, his feet on no path except the one he made. Korm made it into the trees without turning around, for he was thinking that he had seen the last of his brother. Pushing on Korm walked making it through the forest and to the edge of the river tens before he turned north.
The Olana Mountains were bare of snow, the trees and grasses that grew on its slope were fresh and new. The stream at which Korm stopped for the night was cold; the water had a sweet taste. A small fire was all Korm needed to keep warm. Since his brother had not thought to bring Korm some food he went to sleep with his stomach growling.
For Lash sailing back home was hard, for he had watched his brother walk away and into the trees and a sad lost feeling settled over him. `May the gods protect you.' Lash thought, the sound of the water rushing past his small boat the only sound that could be heard.
The morning bird's song and the chirp of cicadas woke Korm, his small fire having gone out long ago. Stretching as he stood, Korm could see the sixes mountains and the crags where Daiya slept. Looking to his left Korm just caught sight of a tail as it disappeared over the top of Olana's Mountain. Starting off, Korm slowly made his way east, there was no need for him to rush today, for he knew that by light down he would be sitting with his friend Loba in the Yudit's home. The path was easier now for Korm and occasionally he would stop and eat a handful of berries, once he even had a few fresh apple plums.
When Korm figured it was time for the noon feasting he stopped to rest. His feet were sore and as he lay back on the soft grass. He gazed up at the sky, watching the clouds with their stings tendrils reaching towards the ground as they floated by. For more than an hour Korm laid there, his body tired and his mind in turmoil. He was almost ready to close his eyes when he caught sight of a black dragon heading north, so instead he stood. Korm stretched his stubby little body before setting off again. `I hope Loba has a few bottles of fermented Elders juice.' Korm thought as he stepped over rocks and fallen trees.
When it was time to feast for the night Korm was sitting in a soft old chair, his feet resting on a log, beside him was a large glass of special Elders juice, and the warmth of the fire behind him. Loba had met Korm at the mouth of the Yudit cave, his eyes smiling as he hugged his friend. Few words were spoken there and with a tired shuffling step, Loba led the way back to his home. Now both sat and rested. "Loba my old friend, together we have seen a lot, now we are at a time when we shall forever have peace." Korm softly spoke.
"Korm, more years that I can count have I lived, I am tired, I wish to just rest now. This peace you speak of I shall not see for my time is near, when I shall sit with the gods. But tell me are you certain of this peace?" Loba remarked.
Sipping his juice, Korm thought about Loba's question, was he certain or was he just fooling himself. "No Loba, I am not certain, but just call it an old man's wish. As for you not seeing the peace that lasts forever, you will live far beyond my years."
"You jest my old friend, for even I know that the prophecy say that the coming of Anmons would be the time for my rest, but they didn't say I would have to wait so many summers."
"Yes I jest, but my friend we have known each other it seems forever."
"That we have Korm, and surely I shall miss you as I have these past few millennia. However the choices have been made and we must do what we must. My task was to bring the boy and his mother in, and that I have done, even though it has been hard for Anmons. Now he must say good bye to the only home he has known and go where he must."
"When you are gone, the country of Atwofour shall mourn your passing, but none more so that I. Anmons though is something beyond both of our control. Sure I am sorry that he must leave here, but if he stays then she shall find him."
"You are certain that she will find the boy here?"
"Yes. I have felt her searching for my brother and I, then today I am positive I saw her dragon slave going north."
"Then I guess that it really is good bye for Anmons. There is the problem of his friend and guardian Pellado, what is to become of him?"
"With Anmons away from here, Pellado will be going to a little island in the center of Dragons cove. Once there my brother Lash shall take care of him."
"So the prophecy then will be complete?'
"It always has been, though the boy was never white haired."
is all in the timing Korm, just remember that."
"I shall my friend, I shall."
The heat of the fire and the glass of Elders juice was making it hard for Korm and Loba to stay awake and fight as hard as they could, they soon lost as sleep over took them. Some time during their sleep Loba left his friend for his eternal rest, a small thin smile on his wrinkled features.
In the Yudit caves when a Yudit passes from this world all flames in the caves go out, this way the Yudit people knew that one of theirs has gone to meet the gods.
In the home of Teide, his woman Abso was about to bake the birth year cake for his son Tasis when the flames disappeared. `Oh my, someone has left.' Abso thought as she placed the pan on the counter.
Abos had just turned when the kitchen door opened and in walked Teide, a solemn look in his eyes. "Who was it my husband."
"Loba, his passing brings great sorrow, Teide answered.
"Yes we shall miss him greatly." Abos spoke, her words forced as she thought, "The old fool is gone, and now my husband shall take his place."
sailing will be late tomorrow afternoon, since he must be taken to
the river tens."
"You shall go with the litter I suppose?"
"We shall all go, as is the custom of the elected Yudit people."
"You can not mean that, our children are too young to understand."
"Yes I mean it, so pack them some snacks for we leave when the first rays from the light that flies shows."
"What of Anmons? He is not Yudit, are you taking him also?"
"Why not, he is part of this family."
"Yes my husband he is, I shall pack for all the boys. I pray that Tasis understands why there is no birth year cake when he gets home."
"I will try to explain it to him. I know that he liked master Loba a lot."
"Very well I shall start the packing then."
Far to the north, far beyond the home of the north people, there is a very fertile island that grows nothing but large apple plums and pinagees. This Island was the home of the Ace of Diamonds and his dragon friend Washto. For Washto, the Ace of Diamonds was not his first ward and the Ace couldn't even dragon speak, so they just lived in peace and spent time together. Washto was at the meeting with the other high dragons and it was he, Washto that wanted to protect the boy with dragon speak, but that was four summers ago.
On this day, the day that Korm and Loba were reunited, Washto had been out hunting. The Pale green dragon had been high over the seal beds when he felt his body lurch, and then came the profound sense of loss, his connection to his first wards was gone, and Washto's first ward Loba had gone to ride the great dragon. Turning south Washto flew towards the river tens, he was going to fly over his wards funeral barge.
As Washto flew south he was joined by other high dragons the last being Diaya. ""Greeting old friend, your loss has been felt by all." Daiya squeaked.
"Greeting Daiya and I thank you for your words."
"Your ward Loba was loved by many, though because of the heat of summer there will be only a few to see him off. Rest assured his is in their hearts."
"That I know and this would be the way he would wish it."
"Will you come to the Crossover after, for we must
speak of the things to come?"
"I shall be there, for I now know more about your boy with dragon speak."
Now you all being young, well you probably have never seen a dragon, let alone a whole bunch flying together. For young Anmons who was walking around after flying on the back of Pellado around the valley in the crossovers. Anmons had just happened to look up into the sky; the sight of so many dragons was wild. "Look Pell." Squeaked Anmons and he pointed to the dragons.
"Those are all the high dragons, something must have happened." Grunted Pellado as he gently clasped Anmons and took flight. "I shall take you home my friend and mayhaps we both can learn what has past."
The flight back to the cave was quick, there was no laughter from Anmons, and Pellado was also quiet. Pellado didn't set Anmons down on the ledge this time; instead he placed Anmons right in front of the cave door. Once Anmons was safely standing Pellado flew off and settled on his ledge.
Pellado had just come to rest, his tail curled tight to his body when Daiya and the other dragons started to land around him. Pellado was watching young Anmons when Teide stepped out and lifted the little boy. Pellado heard the soft giggle as Anmons was carried out of sight. With a heavy sigh Pellado hung his head over the edge and closed his eyes in slumber.
"Do dragons snore?" you ask. Well I am not sure, I mean I have never slept with a dragon, have you? Maybe we should as Anmons or maybe Daiya. Well looks like we have to wait since Daiya is sleeping and we can't go into the Yudit home. I tell you what, why don't you all listen closely to them all, maybe you can tell if they snore."
A NEW START:
Morning times are usually quiet when Anmons awoke from a deep sleep. The morning rays of the light that flies across the sky had yet to peak over the east of Atwofour. Teide had all the boys up, dressed and eating porridge, his wife Abso was in her kitchen getting the snacks ready for their long walk to the river tens. "Master Teide." Anmons mumbled around his spoons. "Did master Loba go to play with the gods?"
"That is a good way to say it Anmons, but when a person leaves us no one really knows where they go." Teide answered.
Tasis and his brother Soroc looked at Anmons as if he had a stingers brain. "Everyone knows that when a person leaves they go live in the forest of the gods." Tasis sneered.
"Yeah stinger brains." Soroc laughed.
"Now boys, there is no need to be that way, Anmons asked a very good question." Teide chided the boys calmly as he got the boys ready to leave.
The cave door stood open, Teide and his family could feel the chill that was still lingering. Making sure that everyone's coat was closed, Teide stepped out being careful no to disturb the dragons that still slept on. The walk to the River tens would take a few hours.
Loba's litter was being carried by six of the strongest Yudit men. The dark wood was covered with the gold shroud, and Loba was dressed in his finest wool, his head was resting on a red silk pillow. As they walked the Yudit high priest read from the holy book and said prayers.
At the River tens Loba's funeral barge was waiting, the small Yudit banner hung loose and the flag of Atwofour was at half mast. The boat builders who lived near the river stood waiting some banging on drums as Loba's litter was placed on the altar that waited for him.
There were a few word spoken, then the final farewell, as the lines were set loose and Loba slowly sailed away. The Barge was just entering the middle of the river when Washto and the other high dragons flew over. Dipping low the passed either side. Seven year old Anmons stood there watching and listening to the mourning cries of the dragons.
With a final sad farewell Anmons ran to catch up to Teide and his family, not knowing that he was about to leave the Yudit caves and wander east and south. Master Teide was quiet on the way back to the caves, his mind on other matters. So lost in though was he that it wasn't until he entered the Yudit home that he remembered Anmons still standing watching the dragons.
Teide had just sat down in his chair staring into the fire, in his hand a hot cup of berry tea when Anmons came in his pack resting on his shoulders, his red cheeks and quick breathing told Teide that Anmons had run all the way. "Young Anmons, I am glad you made it back. I am sorry, I saw you watching the high dragons, and then I thought you were with us."
"It okay master Teide, I know you didn't mean it, but mistress Abso said I gotta leave, is she right?"
"Anmons," Teide started. "There is no way to say this easy, and despite what Tasis and Soroc or mistress Abso say you are like a son. The books you have read, they didn't teach you the prophecies."
"What are prophesies?" Anmons interrupted.
"They are things that are to happen to either make a better world or to make it worse. Now mistress Abso was right, the time has come for you to move on to your next lessons. I regret not letting Loba teach you, for then you would have been ready."
"It's alright, my friend Pell he been telling me some stuff, like dragon history and about some of the things that have happened, will I be allowed to come back."
"To me young one, this is your home, though I know you will live in many others. Here you are loved by many."
"Then when I finish my lessons I gonna come home."
"Now go put your pack away, then wash for feast time is near. You won't leave until the first rays."
Yes Master Teide."
With Anmons washing, Tasis and Soroc playing dragon eye, Teide stood and took his mug back to the kitchen. "Well... is he gone?" Abso asked as she cut up some pinagees.
"No woman he isn't, he leaves in the morning." Teide replied. "I don't know why you dislike him; he has done nothing to you or the boys. So tell me Abso what is it?"
"He is a strange boy, look at him. He speaks to dragons; he reads books way beyond those of any normal seven year old, so tell me why should I like him?"
"I can't, but I feel that all it is with you is fear, fear that he could be the one the prophecies talk about."
"Oh, Teide husband and friend; what if he is, are we going to be cursed, because he has lived with us?"
"No woman, we will be blessed, but either way this is his home. I have told him that.
"In a way I hope he is the one. For then we all can leave these caves, I mean it would be to once more live among the dragons."
"I wouldn't know that was way before the battle of the river tens."
"Oh I know that, but just being outdoors, to be able to look at the lights that twinkle at night. To see the light that changes shape. Those are the things I dream of."
"Then tonight after the boys are in bed, I shall take you out and you can see all that you have dreamed of. We can sit on the ledge beside Anmons dragon friend."
"My husband, generous and kind you are, even when I say things I should not."
"We all do things we know are wrong, and many times we speak when we are upset and it is during those times when we say hurtful things. Do not let it worry you woman, for I have forgiven you and so have the others."
"You are a wise man, and one that should lead the Yudits, like Loba."
"If I am asked by the people, then think I must very carefully."
Miles away, the sconces were being lit as the people of Magica prepared for the evening meals. And far to the northwest, fire once more could be seen reflecting off the clouds and walls of the crossovers. Daiya sat and watched as dragon after dragon flew in and landed, all going to Washto and grunting their condolences. On this night there was no talking as all were tired and they (the dragons) had felt the loss of Loba, so most just curled their tails and drifted off to sleep.
For seven year old Anmons his last night in the Yudit cave, and the home of master Teide was a troubled one, his dreams were troubled, he tossed in his bed, the blankets falling to the floor. Just after the light that changes had started its down fall to the west young Anmons woke with a scream, waking master Teide and his family who found Anmons curled up tight in the corner of his bed.
In the home of the late Loba, Korm woke his eyes flashing. Quickly dressing Korm grabbed the old walking stick that was once his friends and raced out the door and down the dark paths to the home of Teide. Not bothering to knock Korm entered Teide's home and followed the voices.
"Hush little one, its all right, you just had a bad dream." Teide whispered.
"I thought I was gonna burn, the flames they felt really close." Anmons voice shook as he spoke.
"Master Teide?" Korm spoke from the bedroom doorway. "It is good the little one is okay, but we must leave."
"You, were you not the one that came to see Loba?" Teide spoke. "And I must say that since you have been here, nothing good has happened. Now you have come to take Anmons away."
"Master Teide, no one is more at a loss for the death of Loba that I. If you must know, Loba was a friend to me since I was youngster like Anmons here, but if you love and care for him you must allow me to take him away before She (Evella) finds him. Only when he is away and in the land of Magica will he be truly safe."
"I only have your word on that. Who is to say that Anmons will be safe with you?"
"The histories and the prophecies say it. You know this to be true; your concern for his safety clouds your vision."
"Master Teide, she will come if I stay, I know this cuz Lord Daiya and Pellado told me."
"Then why all the questions about you having to leave during the dinner feast.
"Guess I didn't really wanna go, I like it here." Anmons mumbled.
"In a way I am the same, for I don't want you to leave either, but I know you must."
"Come young one, we must go." Korm spoke his head slightly tilted listening. "She is coming."
"Master Korm, Who is `She' you keeping talking about?" Teide asked.
"She is the queen of the Jokers desert and a very evil woman. If she finds Anmons she will destroy him, and then we must wait for another Anmons to come, and that could take many more millennia. I don't know about you, but I prefer peace over chaos."
"Peace is always preferable. We the Yudits have had peace for three centuries; maybe we have become too complacent." Teide spoke as he watched Anmons dress and lift his pack to his shoulders.
"We all want peace; our chance is here now with this young one, but only when he is ready."
"I ready mister, bye Master Teide and thank you." Anmons spoke as tears formed in his eyes.
"Farewell Anmons, may the gods watch over you." Teide whispered his voice crackling as he gave Anmons a hug and walked him to the cave door.
"Be watchful master Teide for the day when Anmons returns; on that day he will come seeking wisdoms." Korm spoke as he walked away.
"He is always welcome here, he knows that."
"May the gods protect you all?"
As he stepped out in to the early morning darkness Korm looked up and saw the last of the lights that twinkled. The light that changed shape was long hidden behind the Olana Mountains. From the Yudit home Anmons and Korm walked east till the found the trial of No Return, there they turned south and walked to the base of the sixes mountains where they made their rest. Anmons was eating the sweet dragon berries that master Teide had given him. "Mister Korm, where are we going?" Anmons asked.
"We are going to Magica, and then to my island in the middle of the lake."
"Will there be other kids to play with?"
"No, there are no kids on my island; the fact that you must live there breaks a treaty, but that I must deal with that later, right now I must make sure you get there."
"We'll make it, you a good man."
"There was a time." Korm laughed. "When, you young Anmons would not have said that."
"It is the truth, you are a good man."
"Yes I guess now I am, now go get some rest, for tomorrow we walk to the north end of the lake."
"Okay, night mister Korm."
Morning light woke a cold Anmons, his little body shivers as he watched Korm make a small fire. The light that flies across the sky had yet to reach the peaks of the mountains, so the two sat there with just the light of the fire around them. "Come sit by the fire and get warm." Korm spoke. "Soon you will learn to keep warm by using magic."
"Thank you, the fire feels good." Whispered Anmons.
When the first rays of light finally made there way over the top of the sixes mountains, Korm and Anmons had made a few miles. At a rest close to mid morning, Korm looked over Anmons shoes and warm clothing. Living in the mountains it was the only clothing to wear, but now that he was moving to the lake he would need different clothes. Anmons was tired; he had never walked so much. "Mister Korm, how come my friend Pellado couldn't come?" Anmons asked as he lay against a large rock.
"Was he one of the boys you played with at the caves?"
"No." Anmons mumbled. "Pellado well, he was my dragon friend."
"Well dragons don't live in Magica, and your friend Pellado would not be welcome, the people would try and hurt him and you wouldn't want that."
"No, but who do I get to play with?"
"You won't have time to play."
The River Tens circles the country of Atwofour, its meandering ways leaving a wide cut across the lands, on the eastern side of Atreydia the River Tens divides Atwofour from the country of the lands of Magica. On their third day of walking Korm and Anmons came to the edge of the river, there they sat and watched as the sun set and the stars started coming out.
Anmons started going about collecting wood for a fire as Korm tossed a line in to the river and started fishing for dinner. Clearing a spot for their fire, Anmons filled their pot with water. Korm was standing staring out over the river his fishing line loose. Turning his head he looked over at Anmons. "Well start the fire; we can't cook fish without one." Korm spoke.
"But mister Korm, I got no scratchers, and master Teide always said not to play with scratchers or fire."
"Use your magic boy. You might as well start to learn now."
"I got no magic, I got nothing." Anmons spoke his little shoulders slumping. "I wish I did have magic" Mumbled Anmons as he stared at the little pile of wood. "Then I could bring my mom back."
"I am sorry she is gone, but magic will not bring her back. Now start the fire."
"I told you I can't." Anmons replied his voice getting a bit louder.
"Then you go hungry."
"Well it your fault, you never teached me yet."
Anmons reply stopped Korm from saying anything more.
"The boy is right."
Korm thought. He was about to speak when he was almost pulled into
"You got one mister Korm, you got one." Anmons jumped and laughed.
"I surely did, but it almost got me." Korm laughed as he slowly pulled in a large fish. Shrugging his shoulders Korm looked at the pile of wood and using a firm voice. Spoke. "Esaple ilet efri.*" Anmons was still looking at the huge fish when Korm spoke, then with a squeak Anmons jumped when heard the crackling and felt the heat beside him. "Remember those words, for tonight you will use them." Snapped Korm as he started cleaning their dinner.
"I will mister Korm." And with that Anmons started to mumble the words over and over.
Lunch over and their bellies full. Korm spokes again and the fire went out. "Efri utole esalpe." After a short rest the two started walking again this time Korm walked beside Anmons instead of leading. "Remember Anmons, no matter what spell or magic you use, you must either start or end with the word esalpe."
"I'll try." Anmons replied sleepily for it had been a long day for him, he was wishing that Pellado was there and he was riding his back.
"Anmons watch where you're walking." Korm yelled bringing Anmons back from his dreams of him and Pellado. Anmons without knowing it had walked right up to the edge the lake. "Where was your mind boy?"
"I was thinking of Pellado and wishing he was carrying me. My feet hurt." Anmons answered.
"Sore feet or not, keep your mind here, your lessons you must learn, I can't having your mind wandering off on the wings of your dragon friend. You only have a few summers to learn what you need." Korm snapped.
"I don't know the answer, all I know is that by the day of you birth year, the one that starts your fifteenth year, and we are both to be in Atreydia at the castle of Five Eight."
"Oh, so I got lots to do?"
"Yes including learning to speak properly."
"That I can do, Pell was teaching me, and he said that someday I would need it."
"Well he is right, now come start the fire so we can eat."
Standing, Anmons looked down at the small pile of wood that Korm had brought together. With a small frown, Anmons pointed his finger and was about to speak when Korm stopped him. "What are you pointing at?"
"The wood, you want a fire don't you?"
"Of course, but did I point when I started the fire for lunch?"
"No you just looked at it."
"Pointing and other things are for charlatans, now look at where you want the fire and say the words."
Again Anmons looked at the small pile. "Esalpe ilet efri." Anmons spoke. Watching as the wood smoked, and then caught fire. "I did it mister Korm."
"Good now let me cook the feast, and then you can put it out."
"But don't we need it to keep warm?"
"No you will remember more spells, but for now three are enough."
"But I only know two, what is the third one?"
"Esalpe aeth toh byede. Try it."
Anmons spoke the words and soon he could feel his body getting warm. Throughout the night both Anmons and Korm slept comfortably without a fire, their magic keeping them warm. Early in the morning Anmons woke and soon had a small fire going and the left over fish heating before Korm even opened his eyes. Breakfast over and the fire out, Korm led Anmons along the west edge of Lake Bravatt. There the Wastrel brier blocked most of the wind, snacking on wild berries, apple plums and pinangees the two made the beach where Korm stepped four years earlier.
Looking out over the smooth water, Korm watched as the island that sank returned, the house rebuilding itself and causing a few waves to touch the shore where the two stood. Anmons watched everything his eyes wide in shock and his mouth falling open. "Close your mouth boy, people might think you're stupid." Korm spoke his eyes never leaving his island.
"Yes mister Korm, but, but." Anmons stuttered.
"But what, you make me wonder sometimes."
"The island, where, I mean how?"
"Don't worry for now; our ride should be here shortly."
"Will there be anything to eat? I'm hungry."
"Eat your pinangees that should be enough."
"Can't we have some mutton?"
"No, now hush up I have to think here."
Turning away Anmons ate the last of his pinangees, his mind thinking that Korm was a mean old man. Anmons was about to turn back towards the lake when he saw someone walking towards them. The closer the person got the better Anmons could see him. The eyes were what Anmons noticed the most. They had a crazed look to them and were red like Master Teide's got when he had too much fermented Elders juice. "Mister Korm, some guys coming." Anmons called out.
"That is our ride to the island, so grab your pack and follow him."
The island was small, covered with sand and rocks there were a few shrub trees that dotted the land but other than those and the house the island was bare. When Anmons set foot on the dock he could smell and overbearing dampness, the odor seemed to cling to the shrubs and rock. The little house looked as if it might fall. Anmons also noticed that as he walked, the path seemed to twist and turn, making the walk to the house last a long time.
The house looked small from the outside, the moss covered roof and sides seem like they would fall apart at the slightest touch, but once through the door the place was big with a vast amount of space. There was a fire burning in the stove and the place was warm; the warmth itself seeped into the body. "Take your pack to the first room on the left" Korm told Anmons as he pointed down a hallway Anmons hadn't noticed before.
"Yes mister Korm."
"And by all the gods, stop calling me mister, it is just Korm."
"But your older, Master Teide said I should be polite to old people, no matter who they is." Anmons replied as he placed his pack on the bed.
"Your master Teide was right except when you are told otherwise."
Back in the main room Anmons gazed about, seeing maps, charts, old books and lot of other stuff, but still not place to sit and eat meals. Wandering about Anmons touched one thing after another; sometimes he would open a book, only to find the pages empty. "Stupid books, nothing in them," Thought Anmons, after looking through three or four.
He was about to open another one when Korm came into the room. "No book is stupid Anmons." Korm spoke.
"But they don't have anything in them." Anmons spoke, surprised that Korm knew what he was thinking.
"I see, maybe you should look with your heart, not just your eyes."
The little bit of magic, Korm's words to look with the heart as well as the eyes was the start of Anmons lessons, lessons that would take the next six summers, lots of patience and many laughs.
To be continued
Esalpe ilet efri. Please lite fire.
Efri utole esalpe. Fire out please.
Esalpe aeth toh byede please heat the body.
SHIPS AND CASTLES.
Far to the northwest way past the people of the north, there is an island that some say stretches forever. Vast lands covered with huge forests, fresh water rivers crisscross the mountains. There are few villages; most are built along the edge of the sea of Aces. Now the biggest was the city of Brav. Many of the young men sailed from Brav going south to work in the services of the King of Atwofour.
Celganese people were strong in their faith, and they believed that to speak dragon was to be touched by one of the gods. The Mayor of Brav was a tall white haired man that stood a good six inches over seven feet tall, his dark blue eyes seemed to always smile when he was looking at you. Alain Bravatt was the brother to Major Bravatt of Atwofour and uncle to Anmons.
On the day that Anmons left the Yudit home with Korm, Alain was heading to the river to fish the morning away, something he did at least three times a week. This morning he was stopped by the city herald. "Mayor Bravatt, it is a good day, the fish are biting, the dragons are again meeting and the lost child with white hair is in the land of Magica. The herald spoke.
"So now time is short soon we must be ready, the dragon will come and we will march on the Jokers desert." Alain replied.
"Don't be so sure that it will be easy Alain, for there are many roads that must be taken. The ones that the lost child must take will help all, but only if he finishes."
"You doubt the child, surely the child will finish for he is one of us."
"Only half Celgana, the rest is of the north people and we know nothing of them."
"The Prophecies of Celgana have shown us what we must do, but some of it is obscure or hard to understand."
"Only because the time is not yet for them to become clear. Who is to say that the Mayors are to be the only ones to read the prophecies?"
"Our laws say that. It has been like that since the gods made our lands."
"That may be. Let's wait to see what the child does."
"Your right, well you said the fish were biting so I am going to try my luck."
"I wish you luck, may the god Madfoot guide you."
The river was running smoothly when Alain got to it. Tossing in his line, Alain sat; his back against a large pinangee tree. Alain really didn't come to fish; he just wanted time away from everyone. The warmth of the sun and the sounds of the river soon lulled Alain to sleep.
Back in Brav the herald had spread the news of the lost child. To most the news was joyous; they all had waited, wondering what had happened to the mother and baby that had run from one of Celgana's heroes. Now they knew about the child. The where abouts of the mother was another matter and was something that could be handled at a later time.
On the other side of Brav hidden behind a few old pinangee trees sat an old ram shackled house, the windows were broken and the doo had log gone. The only things that were in this shack were a rickety old table and a three legged chair. On the chair sat a blonde haired teen of about seventeen his eyes were watching the skyline through one of the few windows. Leo Bravatt hated Celgana, he hated the way people thought and the way the gods treated there people. In Leo's mind the thought of ruling the people of Celgana was like a drug and the more he thought of it the more he wanted. As he was thinking these thoughts, he was scratching away, writing on a small piece of parchment, yet still keeping his eye on the small bird that was hopping around him. Soon the scratching stopped as Leo rolled the small piece of paper and tied it to the bird's legs. "Fly to your mistress bird." With the Bird gone Leo left the shack and walked into Brav and onto the river where he knew his father would be fishing. As he joined his father there was a smile on his face as he thought of the suffering that soon would be coming to the world.
As the Hawkeye was flying south towards Atwofour and the cave of turmoil the home of Evella and her ward Worb, it flew over the castle of Five Eight. The Castle was huge towers and walkways, trees and farms. People could be seen working the fields, some pruning trees while others were weeding the gardens. Inside the castle the hallways were long, the walls covered with tapestries and paintings going back as far as the Battle for the River Tens. Gilded moldings ran the length of the ceiling edges, sconces were spaced evenly on both sides as you walked down to the overly large doors. This was the throne room, an ostentatious rectangle with three large stone chairs sitting on a raise dais.
The cushions were of rich gold and blue velvet. High on the walls windows had been made giving off enough light that anyone could be seen within the room. The king was sitting on the throne his eyes closed as he thought of the way the world was going, He knew that The boy with dragon speak had been found and was now in Magica and that soon he would need to make a stand. The King was a studious man, never jumping into things without thinking of how it would affect his people. So often he had thought of taking his army and marching into the Desert to rid himself of the evil that was there, but every time he was ready to make the orders something would tell him not to. So now the King was in a bind.
For Anmons the first few days in Korm's house were spent resting and learning to read the book with his heart and not just his eyes. On Tail Point Island, Pellado was laying around listening to Lash complain that he had to spend so much time with a dragon that knew nothing. As for the Hawkeye, it finally made it to Evella three days after leaving Celgana. Setting down on the old stone table, the bird hopped to its mistress and with a squawk lifted the leg with the parchment tied to it. "This better be good news bird brain, or else." Evella snarled.
The Hawkeye just twisted its head and looked at Evella as she read the note.
Worb had heard Evella's words to the Hawkeye and left the area, going to the front of the cave. The heat from the sun and sand hit Worb's pale body like a hammer, but he just stood there. Since his trip to the Crossover Mountains, Evella had been letting Worb stand at the entrance more and more. "Brat!" Evella hollered. "Come back in here and pack, we have to go north, it is time you went to work for the King."
"Yes Mistress." Word spoke, his shoulders sagging as he went back inside.
Packing his bag, Worb placed it in the old cart that Evella had, then loading Evella's on top, her books of spells the last to go on. "Well move it, we need to make the river tonight." Evella snapped even though she knew that it would take at least two days to get there.
The cart moved slowly, the old wooden wheels were cracked and dried, the squeals that came from the cart as the wheels turned showed that grease was badly needed. Soft sand is hard to walk through, but when pulling a cart it is next to impossible. From the cave to the river there really wasn't a path, just an old worn out trail, that was pitted and had rocks scattered all over it. The river of tens was a good fifteen miles from the cave, but to Worb it may as well have been a hundred the way the sand sucked at the wheels and his feet.
With night fall coming on Evella was really complaining, some times cursing and hitting Worb for walking to slow. The fact that Evella and Worb had only done half the distances didn't help matters, even worse was the fact that Evella had decided to ride on the cart making it even heavier for Worb.
Now everyone knows that deserts get cold at night and Jokers desert was no different. Having eaten a cold dinner, Worb curled up under the cart and fell to sleep, but only after he had gotten his body warm with his magic. Way before the first light, Worb was once more pulling the cart and again Evella made it hard by riding. When the hour of midmorning came Worb was worn out, the cart had bogged down in the sand and Evella was sitting there looking like should would spit stinger tails if anything else went wrong. Worb on the other hand was ready to kill. Keeping to himself Worb rested, rubbing his swollen feet as he looked west over the sand. He could smell the water, the stench of rotting fish, so he knew that they were close.
A twenty minute rest or as close as Worb could tell he was back pulling the cart. A small dune was just before him and with the heat from the desert sand and the sun hitting him in the face he wondered if he would have the strength to make it over the top, if he did then it would be down hill the rest of the way.
The smell of fresh air, the fine spray of the sea can some times give the body a boost; this was the case for Worb as he reached the top of the dune and gazed down onto the dock. The docks were crowded and noisy when Evella and Worb finally made it. For the last mile Worb could have sworn that he was going to die.
The barge when Worb found it looked like it would sink if it left the dock, the paint was chipped and some of the boards looked like they were cracked and warped looking ready to fall off. Standing there looking at the barge Worb waited as Evella spoke with the owner. Then she was back and Worb was carrying their bags on board. For three days, Evella Stayed in her cabin, while Worb was on deck, sleeping under a tarp and eating the scraps that were tossed to him. At night some of the sailors tried to have their way with him, but soon learned that the boy was not there to give them pleasure. In fact some of the sailors found that they couldn't work for a few days as they were in a bad way. During the day Worb would sit on the bow the fresh air felt good and Worb spent most of his time just watching the water as it rushed by.
WORB AND THE KING.
Sailing up to the docks of Atreydia was a long and slow process, with so many boats and barges shuffling around, it was a wonder that nothing was hit. The dock was a solid gravel and wood landing. People were swarming all over, some gawking while others were busy unloading boats. With Worb once more following Evella he stepped on to the gang plank and was almost shoved over into the water as sailors and workers rushed up and down. Lucky for Worb that their bags had already been taken ashore and placed on the back of an opulent carriage that waited for them. The Carriage was white with an ace of spades in gold on the doors. The footman was dressed in a rather light blue tunic with light grey pants that were tucked into black boots. The footman helped Evella in making sure she was comfortable before closing the door. "You boy, you can sit beside the driver." The footman spoke, his high pitched voice grating on Worb's ears.
"Yeah sure." Worb mumbled as he climbed to his seat.
The snap of the whip, the quick jostle as the horse strained and then the carriage was moving making its way across the docks and through the crowds, heading towards the centre of the city. Once away from the docks the driver relaxed a bit. "Tis a fine woman, your mother is lad." The driver spokes.
"She isn't my mother, she's my aunt." Worb answered.
"Aye, but still a fine woman. I would like to get to know her."
"I doubt she will talk to you, but you can try." Word spoke hiding a smirk with his hands.
"I see; she is a hard one is she."
"Worse. What's it like here?" Worb asked as he gazed around at all the grass, trees and wheat. The last time Worb saw grass or trees, was when Rombec took him to the Crossovers to spy on the meeting of the dragons.
"Tis a lovely city. Atreydia is bright, cheerful, lots to d. There are schools that children your age must attend. Even if you work in the castle. Then there are the many farms around the city, so no one ever goes hungry."
"I don't think my aunt will let me go to school, and I never been around others my age."
"Well the King will insist, even his boy goes so you will be joining him."
"Uh huh, sure."
The rest of the trip was done in silence, Worb continually looking around wondering what it would be like to have a friend, someone his own age to talk to, to play with. Worb was so lost in thought that he was startled when the carriage stopped and he got his first look at the castle, the huge ornate doors and the many windows. The pinagee leaves were starting to fall giving the grass a patch work of color. Though Evella and Worb were in the King's coach, and since the both worked for the King they were taken to the servant's door. With the coach stopped the driver waved Worb to hop down as the footman held the side door for his aunt. As soon as Evella and Worb were standing other servants came out and started taking their bags inside. This was the start of Worb's time in the Castle Five eight. It was also the start of the slow changes that would take place within him over the next five years.
Once settled in their rooms Evella and Worb were shown to the dining room that the servants use for their meals. The meal was more than Worb had ever seen or eaten since he could remember. Evella was telling Worb that he would be meeting the King and his son the next day and that he had better be good or he would regret his life, as if he didn't already. After eating Worb went back to the room he had been given and for over an hour soaked in the bath that was ready for him. Nothing like a hot bath, a big meal to make someone tired and that is how Worb was when he finally climbed into bed, he was asleep minutes after his head hit the pillow.
Morning came and Worb could not remember when he had slept so well, a night where there were no nightmares or the sound of his aunt yelling at him to wake up and fuel the fires that kept her warm. Though he couldn't remember what his dreams were, Worb felt refreshed and totally at ease. Quickly dressing he made his way to the servant's dining hall where he had his first taste of eggs and ham with fresh biscuits and pinangee juice. Worb had just finished eating when his aunt walked in, one look at her face and Worb knew that she was in one of her very foul moods.
Vacating the dining hall Worb made his way outside and slowly walked into the fields. The late smell of mowed hay lingered in the air as Worb watched some of the workers finishing the harvest of the pinangee fruit. Worb was so lost in his walk and looking at something other than sand that before he knew it he had reached the edge of the castle's farm. Turning he looked back and smiled, this was going to be his home, he would do anything to stay here and get away from his aunt.
Back in the castle Evella was slowly eating her breakfast when the King and his son came walking in. "Madam, it is good that you have come to work in my services. I do hope that you will be with us for many years." The King spoke
"That is my wish Sire, but then who knows what the gods have in store for us." Evella answered with a curtsy
"That is true, now where is this young man that is in your care? I would like to meet him and get him started in school."
"Sire, my ward shall not be attending classes, his job is to serve you and your family, not be a burden to you."
"Nonsense, all children go to school, whether that work for me or not, it is the law of Atreydia."
"Well then I shall have to make sure that he is here for you to meet, and I shall talk to him about going to school."
"Very well I shall meet him at the lunch hour."
As the King was talking with Evella, the prince was standing there listening and watching, now remember that some kids are very much able to read others and the Prince was no different. When he looked at Evella there was an instant dislike for her, there was something that the Prince just didn't trust. He himself had wanted to meet this Worb person, if for no other reason than maybe see if they could become friends.
The King and prince left Evella to her meal and wandered the halls quietly talking. The prince then left his father to wander outside, to enjoy a few moments of fresh air and the sounds of people laughing or just sitting talking with one another. When lunch time came the prince once more joined his father as the two ate then walked into the servant's dining room. There the prince and king got there first look at Worb.
Glancing at Worb the Prince only saw a frightened boy; the eyes looked haunted, yet curious. Excusing himself the prince left the dinning room and walked through the castle and out into the courtyard, his thoughts on many things, the last being his classes that he knew were going to start soon. As he sat near the fountain he was watching the people heading off to work. His thoughts were miles away when a shadow fell across his. "Prince Tarlen, excuse me but it is time for your classes." His teacher spoke with a soft quiet voice."
"Yes sir, I shall be there in a moment." Prince Tarlen replied.
"Very well, don't be late. You know how your father is?"
"Do I ever, last time I couldn't sit for a few hours." The prince laughed.
Half an hour later Prince Tarlen was sitting in his class listening to his teacher when the door opened and in walked Worb with one of the servants. Pointing to one of the open desks the servants told Worb to sit. "Sir this is a new student, he has never been to a class room, so his education is very lacking, as you know the King has ordered all children to attend classes, so he is here, do not go gently on him." The servant spoke with a tone of distain for Worb.
Sitting at a desk that the teacher pointed too Worb sat and listened, getting his first lessons in reading and writing. As he sat there doing his work Worb soon had a small smile upon his face as he had found a way to leave his aunt even if for just a few hours a day.
All the small islands in the princess seas were small, some barren with a few scattered rocks, some with stunted trees bent and twisted from the continual winds that blew against them. Tail Point Island was one of these tree stunted islands, there was no beach. When one stepped foot on the island they stepped right into the trees, little river ran across the island, the water a brackish foul tasting liquid that no one could drink. As you walked through the trees and crossed these little rivers, you got lost in the silence that was there. Right in the center of the island was an oasis of course grass and small rocks, the grass had a whitish look to from the sea salt that fed its roots. In the middle of this oasis stood a small weather beaten shack, the door barely hanging on and the windows dirty. The roof needed mending and the chimney rebuilt, but that was all that stood on this island.
Lash stood in the center of the shack looking around scratching his scraggly beard and shaking his head. Pushing his glasses back on to his nose Lash mumbled a few profanities then walked outside. With his booted feet crushing the grass Lash walked around the shack, every so often stopping and mumbling words. He had just gotten back to the door when looking east he saw a small purple and silver dragon flying towards him, instinctively he knew that this was Pellado, his charge for the next six years. With the shack repaired and clean Lash sat on the front stoop and waited, wondering just what was going to happen when the young dragon finally landed and started to squeak, squeal and grunt at him.